CENTRALIA — Three members of Centralia City Council voted Tuesday night to vacate the election of Mayor-Elect Bryan Kuder, with Councilman Howard Jones who ran unsuccessfully for the mayor’s seat abstaining.
Current mayor Tom Ashby opened Tuesday night’s meeting by informing the standing room only crowd that an investigation into Kuder’s residency was conducted by City Manager Dan Ramey. Ashby also told the crowd that the council would not take questions.
Ramey’s investigation reportedly found that after filing to run for mayor, Kuder sold his home within the city limits and purchased a home in Washington County. Mortgage documents for the new home reportedly were signed by Kuder and his wife and indicated that the home would be his main residence.
Kuder’s attorney Lane Harvey later argued that in order to maintain his residency within the city, Kuder leased an apartment on West Broadway and that he updated his voter registration, driver’s license, and insurance information to reflect the apartment as his main address.
Harvey said the apartment subsequently suffered water damage and was uninhabitable for about 30 days while repairs were being made. During that time, he said, Kuder stayed at the home in Washington County.
Repeating statements she made in a letter to the city’s attorney, Kuder’s attorney Nicole Villani said her client had not been given due process and they were only notified on Friday the issue would even come before the city council. She said in her letter earlier this week that if the council voted to keep her client from taking the mayor’s seat they would take the issue to court. Following Tuesday’s meeting she confirmed there would be a next step, but declined to say what it would be.